I’m kicking off patient partnership week with a look at why we think patient partnership so important for both patients and the health and care system. So important, in fact, that embedding patient partnership is the Patients Association’s five-year strategy, which we launched last year. We even created a new post in the organisation, Head of Patient Partnership, to guide the strategy.


At the Patients Association, our purpose is to ensure everybody can access and benefit from the health and care they need to live healthy, independent lives. We don’t believe this is achievable without patient partnership. That’s because patient partnership achieves three very important things.

  • Better quality care and outcomes
  • It’s more cost-effective
  • It improves safety.

It's almost like a magic bullet – this simple act of listening to and working with patients. Its benefits occur because if a service listens to patients and values what they’re telling you, then a service is more likely to understand and meet patients’ needs, and be responsive when safety problems are raised. And by providing services that meet patients’ needs and being swift to respond to safety issues, the service wastes less on ineffective services, or having to fund services needed to sort out problems caused by inadequate or pay compensation because of unsafe care.

In my conversation with Dr Henrietta Hughes, the new-in-post Patient Safety Commissioner for England, on Wednesday we will discuss the role of patient partnership in patient safety.


What we mean by ‘patient partnership’ has been described as patient engagement or involvement, person-centred care, shared decision making and co-production.

As an organisation, we’re not preoccupied with terminology. Throughout this patient partnership week, you’ll hear our speakers and participants describe patients and professionals working together in different ways.

Our first event in patient partnership week today will showcase some great examples of what can be described as person-centred care or shared decision making from NHS England, the Welsh Value in Health Centre, and Realistic Medicine in Scotland.


Work we’re starting this year will identify characteristics of true patient partnership. This is important work that will enable us, patients, and professionals to assess if a service does or doesn’t work in partnership with its patients and carers. What we’re working towards is that partnership is a genuine reality for patients, not something that exists in a formal structure but in practice makes little difference.

We have run one focus group of patients and carers to help us define the characteristics using our Theory of Change, and the patient partnership paper our Board of Trustees approved this spring the characteristics of patient partnership. We’ll take what the group collectively agreed were the characteristics of patient partnership and share it in a wider group, including professionals, managers from the system and other organisations to get their opinions.


We already see two types of patient partnership:

  • When patients work with healthcare professionals to make decisions about care and treatment, partnership
  • When patients, carers and communities work with the system in service design and operation.

With the first, personal interactions, there are tools and resources that people use that are known to be helpful

For partnership with the system we feel there’s more that needs to be done. Our events on Wednesday and Thursday, will show how partnership with the system and industry can work. We’ve some great examples of what ICSs are doing on Wednesday and the roundtable on Thursday will show how industry can partner successfully with patients and carers.

Making it happen

For us, the challenge is not to develop new approaches, but to secure the consistent delivery of established approaches that have the characteristics of patient partnership. So I’m excited by this week’s events and to hear from so many people, all working to deliver the health and care patients need to live healthy, independent lives.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive

Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca have provided sponsorship to the Patients Association to cover the costs of hosting this series of webinars for Patient Partnership Week. No sponsor has had any influence over the content of the webinars, beyond being invited to speak at individual webinars, and full editorial control rests with the Patients Association.